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Costa Rica Economy Two Years Ahead Of Schedule For Full Recovery By 2023

Coldwell Banker Costa Rica | 1st February 2022 | Share
Costa Rica Economy Two Years Ahead Of Schedule For Full Recovery By 2023

New Tourism Minister Brings a Wealth of Experience And Renewed Hope

Following the swearing in on May 8th of the country’s 49th president, Rodrigo Chaves, William Rodriguez is appointed as the country’s new Minister of Tourism and head of Costa Rica Tourism Board. Rodriguez has only been Minister of Tourism for Costa Rica for just over four months and has already outlined specific plans of action to achieve this nationwide goal.

Rodriguez brings 49 years of experience, including country manager for United Airlines in Costa Rica and Guatemala, and manager of the elegant beautiful towering Aurola Holiday Inn, San Jose. He’s worked in the travel agency and tour operator sectors.

The 71-year-old has previously held the position of Marketing Manager with the Costa Rica Tourism Board. With international relations, business and economics, he has a degree in Political Science and a Masters degree in Business Administration and Marketing.

With a massive rebound of new commercial and residential construction already in 2022, a spirit of optimism is in the air. Thousands of tourists took advantage of the relaxed travel restrictions and came well past the high season to enjoy the sun, surf, and spectacular sightseeing across the country. And of course, the Capital San Jose has had its own special sites seen by thousands of visitors this year.

Rodriguez said his main priority as tourism minister is to fully reactivate international travel to Costa Rica, bringing visitor numbers back to pre-pandemic levels. “Destinations around the world are saying they will meet 2019 visitor arrival figures in 2024 or 2025,” he said. “However, we aim to have Costa Rica fully back on track sometime in 2023.”

“Visitors come to Costa Rica because of the wildlife, nature, adventure and wellness, but we also know they return because of the warmth and friendliness of the local people, who are always ready to lend a hand to visitors”

The new minister is focusing on increasing air connectivity between Costa Rica, the UK and Europe, as well as encouraging longer stays and frequent visits.

With all his experience, Rodriguez believes he and his team can dramatically increase visitor arrivals by diversifying the destination’s product and through effective marketing.One of three personal goals for Rodriguez.

  1. Launch an economic assistance program for tourism businesses, which he said are mostly micro- and mini-enterprises that are either family-run or otherwise smaller ventures. The assistance program will be announced on Sept. 27, which is United Nations World Tourism Day.
  2. Raise the profile of the social elements of Costa Rican tourism. He explained that means focusing on how Costa Ricans can benefit from tourism. A plan is in the works, said Rodriguez, to raise the profile of the social elements of tourism both within the country and for those who are potential visitors.
  3. Beyond beaches strategy. While beaches are the top attraction in a country that has both Pacific and Caribbean coasts, he will promote the country’s natural gifts and its quality of life with a marketing campaign called Life’s Essentials that highlights four attributes:
    1. Adventure travel and all the affiliated activities that go with it – both “soft” and more rigorous
    2. Natural beauty – the beaches, of course, but also flora and fauna. With volcanoes, mountains, rainforests and other natural settings, there is potential for a great variety of outdoor activities. In fact, more than 30% of Costa Rica is comprised of protected areas, which includes national parks.
    3. Wellness, which Rodriguez said is more about well-being, connecting with oneself and adopting local principles around wellness that visitors can bring home to their friends and family and invite them to share
    4. Pura Vida (Pure Life) – Costa Rica’s long-established approach to its admired peaceful quality of life.

Rodriguez said recent UN research showed Costa Rica is the happiest country in Latin America. He pointed out that the government abolished its military in 1950 so it could invest in education and other elements critical to a good life.

Travel Advisor Education.

With a more nuanced appeal to selling the country than simply sun and beaches, said Rodriguez, travel advisors are key to promoting Costa Rica. “We understand,” he said, “that we have a destination that is best booked through a travel advisor.” As a result, he said, advisor education is being ramped up – and more family trips are being planned because, he said, “there is nothing like experiencing the destination.”

Because of its diversity, said Rodriguez, Costa Rica has an unusually long average length of stay behind only faraway Australia and New Zealand. He said many visitors start on the beach, then venture into the mountains, rainforests, and cities. He said that is easy because infrastructure, including connectivity, is of high quality throughout the country.

That infrastructure, said Rodriguez, includes hotels of every category – from bed and breakfasts to luxury resorts. In fact, there are four luxury properties under construction on the Pacific coast alone:


Six Senses

Waldorf Astoria

One & Only

...all of which should be completed in two years.

And the country is easy to get to, according to Rodriguez. Costa Rica has, he said, the third most U.S. airlines flying to the destination after Canada and Mexico. And the coming cruise season will be the best in years. Stronger than even before the pandemic with 400 ships arriving on both coasts.

The profile of visitors has changed, said Rodriguez. While 50% of visitor’s pre-pandemic were families, that mix is changing with a growing percentage of friends’ groups and younger travelers. That shift, he said, could change the way the country promotes. In addition, the US market is growing. Pre-pandemic, it was 42% of total arrivals and it is now 60%.

With all that it has to offer, said Rodriguez, Costa Rica has one main attraction. He explained that in a recent survey, visitors were asked the main reason they enjoyed their trip and 96% answered “Costa Ricans and the relationships we had with locals.”

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